...it might well be said that one’s education is not complete without a study of comparative religion or the history of religion...
Studying religion at George Mason prepares you for engagement in our increasingly interdependent and pluralistic societies by equipping you with a solid grounding in the distinct texts, customs, and values of dominant and conventionally less familiar religious traditions, as well as a familiarity with various theories and methods in the study of religion. Through the major or various minors you can focus in-depth on the historical and cross-cultural study of a particular religion, or you can explore more broadly through comparative approaches on religion.
Through multiple interdisciplinary approaches and theoretical frameworks, you’ll gain a rich understanding of the importance of religion in both past and contemporary cultures as you learn to interpret the dynamics of religious thought, convictions, actions, and expressions. Recognizing the significance of religion in human life can help you think in critical, imaginative, and responsible ways about your own religious commitments—or lack thereof—and more importantly those of others. To this extent, many of Mason’s Religious Studies courses examine the intersection of religion with contemporary ethical and social issues including notions of health and healthcare, environmental responsibility, and dialogue and peace-making. Other courses examine the influence of religious themes and symbols in influential works of literature, architecture, music, film and other visual art, as well as the role of religion in more explicitly secular contexts such as in matters of political histories, economic and public policy, and law.
Religious Studies at Mason covers a broad range of subjects. Whether you study particular religious traditions or study religion from a theoretical perspective, you’ll discover the myriad ways that religion is a source of inspiration, meaning, and controversy. A major in Religious Studies compliments many other programs at Mason, such as with a minor in Asia-Pacific Studies, Latin American Studies, or Native American and Indigenous Studies, or even as part of a dual major with Anthropology, Sociology, Philosophy, Women and Gender Studies, History, Art History, English or Comparative Literature, or Governmental Studies. The Religious Studies minor, or more specifically the minor in Islamic Studies or Judaic Studies, adds concentrated depth with another major such as Global Affairs, Security Studies, Conflict Resolution, or Global and Community Health. Through sustained critical inquiry, you’ll develop a skillset that can serve you on any career path or academic trajectory.
...if I went back to college today, I think I would probably major in comparative religion, because that’s how integrated it is in everything that we are working on and deciding and thinking about in life today.
Want to engage deep philosophical, historical, ethical, and political questions? Or learn about the people, events, and ideas that shape religion and, in turn, the ways that religion shapes us, our values, ways of thinking, social structures, and cultural expressions? Start with The Human Religious Experience, which examines the diversity of lived religion around the globe. Or try Religions of the West and Religions of Asia, which focus on the history and development of religious traditions of Asia Minor and Europe or East and South Asia and consider their contemporary relevance within the US and wider world. Or check out Religion and Literature or Religion and Film which investigate the ways that religious themes like death and immorality, divine will and justice, and suffering and human destiny have infused popular culture.
Immerse yourself more into the details of a particular religious tradition in courses like Judaism, Qur’an and Hadith, Jesus and the Gospels, or Mormonism, or of a specific region like Korean Philosophy and Religions or Religion and Revolution in Latin America. Compliment this knowledge with courses that examine the relationship between religion and critical understandings of gender, race, and self-identity in Islam and Human Rights, Spiritual Autobiography, or Religion, Fantasy, and Imagination.
Take your exploration of religion to the next level with a Masters of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies with a concentration in Religious Studies. Study religion from an interdisciplinary and cross-cultural perspective as you develop your own personal focus of study culminating in a final project or thesis. You’ll have the opportunity to take classes not only from Religious Studies faculty but also from faculty in History, Philosophy, Sociology/Anthropology, and Conflict Resolution. The MAIS-Religious Studies Concentration degree program encourages you to pursue your own interests in religion through independent inquiry, creativity, and interdisciplinary investigation.
Knowledge of religions is also necessary for understanding much of history, politics, ethics, art, and literature. Study about religions in the social studies explores the religious dimension of human existence in its broader cultural context, including its relation to economic, political, and social institutions, as well as its relation to the arts, geography, language, and literature.